Monday begins the legislative “home stretch” in Tallahassee

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Now that lawmakers have returned from the weeklong Passover and Easter holidays, the home stretch of the 2014 legislative session has begun, with Tallahassee entering the final two weeks starting Monday.

At the top of the agenda for both chambers are negotiations for the 2014-15 state budget, as well as the fate of dozens of bills.

Although committees meet early in the week on a series of issues —including abortion and the viability of fetuses, continued operation of trauma centers statewide, and allowing craft beer breweries to sell a product in half-gallon growlers, among others — the majority of the action will center on the House and Senate floor.

8:30 a.m.:

The House Appropriations Committee meets in Room 212 of the Knott Building.

10:45 a.m.:

The House Judiciary Committee meets in Room 404 of the House Office Building.

The House State Affairs Committee meets in Morris Hall, Room 17 of the House Office Building.

1 p.m.:

The Senate Rules Committee meets in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building to consider about 20 bills, including a proposal aimed at preventing abortions after fetuses reach the point of “viability.” Under current law, abortions in most cases are barred during the third trimester of pregnancy. But the bill (SB 918), sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores, would require that physicians conduct examinations before performing abortions to determine if fetuses are viable. If viability is reached, abortions would normally not be allowed — a change that the bill’s supporters say could stop abortions around the 20th week of pregnancy. Also on the agenda is HB 7145, ratifying controversial DOH rules requiring certain trauma centers to remain open.

2 p.m.:

The House will hold an afternoon floor session to take up a series of issues, including HB 7083, filed by Rep. Manny Diaz, Jr., to create a series of changes in charter-school laws. The House will consider a proposal HB 7069, filed by Rep. Marlene O’Toole, changing requirements for early-learning and child-care providers. Among other issues, the chamber is expected to take up a measure (HB 255), filed by Rep. Matt Gaetz, seeking to prevent insurers from discriminating against customers because of gun ownership, and another proposal allowing farmers’ markets, flea markets, and open-air markets selling fresh produce to accept EBT systems

4:30 p.m.:

The Senate Ethics & Elections Committee meets in Room 412 of the Knott Building to consider the confirmations of dozens of appointees to state, regional and local positions. Those appointees include Florida Public Service Commission members Ronald Brise and Art Graham, along with trustees at 20 state colleges. The will also consider the executive suspension and recommended removal of William Gladden Jr., a Korean War veteran who is the only notary in his part of Apopka, for the approval of a document that was likely a fraud or a forgery.

Elsewhere in Florida:

The Governor’s Panel on Excellence in Long-Term Care will hold a conference call at 9 a.m. to review applications for Gold Seal Award designations for nursing homes. (Call-in number: 1-888-670-3525. Conference code: 8050334011.)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich will speak at the South Lake Democratic Club at 3 p.m., followed by a meeting of the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee at 7 p.m. The Lake County event is at Clermont Community Center, 620 West Montrose St. in Clermont. The Orange County event is at the IBEW union hall, 20 Virginia Ave., Orlando.

The state’s Teacher and Leader Preparation Implementation Committee will hold a conference call at 4 p.m. (Call-in number: 1-877-299-4502. Passcode: 31253156.)

Democratic attorney-general candidate George Sheldon expects to raise money at an event in Tallahassee at 5:30 p.m. The event will be at 101 Restaurant, 215 West College Ave. in Tallahassee.

Democrat April Freeman, who is running to replace former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel in the June 24 special election in Florida’s 19th Congressional District will speak to the Collier County Democratic Club at 6 p.m. The event will be at 13040 Livingston Road, Suite 2 in Naples.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.